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Stress Alter Body Mechanism, Anxiety and Depression Can Be Fatal

Update Date: Aug 01, 2012 08:38 AM EDT

A latest study reveals that people with poor mental health are at higher risk of encountering an early death. 

The study in UK states that a quarter of adults are at risk even if their problems are mild. It further says that people with depression or other major mental health problems are more prone to lower life expectancy. 

British researchers have found that those who have 'sub-clinical' anxiety or depression had 20 per cent higher chances of dying over a decade than those who did not, reported the Telegraph.

For the study, researchers from universities and hospitals in Edinburgh and London investigated the deaths of 68,000 middle aged and older people between the years 1994 to 2004.

It was found that those who suffered sub-clinical anxiety and depression were at a 29 per cent increased risk of dying from heart disease and stroke. These people were also at equal risk of dying from 'external causes' like road accidents and suicide, although these factors hardly accounted for a small proportion of deaths. 

It is a common notion that those who have mental health issues die early because they do not take care of themselves, perhaps drink too much and do not exercise. 

However, according to the lead author of the study, Dr Tom Russ, these factors hardly contribute to the mortality. He emphasizes that even if these factors are taken out along with blood pressure, the link between mental health and mortality remains. 

Russ further said that this suggests that stress alters the body in such a way that it makes it intrinsically less healthy. He said that more risk for people with anxiety was of heart attack and stroke.

 "It's early days, but there's growing interest in potential physiological changes associated with both distress and cardiovascular pathology," he said.

Dr Russ also pointed out that people they looked at for this study did not even have symptoms of depression enough to be diagnosed with the problem. 

He warned that people who have mild anxiety or depression should take it seriously but he and his colleagues do not suggest going for any medication for the same. As far as possible, a treatment which does not involve drugs should be investigated, he said.

"This research highlights the importance of seeking help for mental health problems as soon as they become apparent, as early intervention leads to much better health outcomes all round," Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind said according to the report.

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